KU students concerned about speaker from anti-LGBTQ hate group coming to campus

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A student organization from the University of Kansas School of Law is set to host a member of a group notorious for condemning LGBTQ+ people.

KU’s Federalist Society on Thursday will host Jordan Lorence, attorney and director of strategic engagement for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a free speech and religious freedom group based in Arizona. ADF has been declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of its threat toward LGBTQ+ rights.

According to SPLC, ADF “has supported the recriminalization of sexual acts between consenting LGBTQ adults in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has contended that LGBTQ people are more likely to engage in pedophilia; and claims that a ‘homosexual agenda’ will destroy Christianity and society.”

Ellie Beck, a second-year KU Law student, said allowing Lorence on campus presents direct harm to LGBTQ+ students and community members.

“The students in general are extremely upset, especially queer and trans law students at KU Law,” Beck said. “They’re saying that they’re scared to show up to class tomorrow because they’re scared for their physical and emotional safety and also just throughout the entire student body, I’ve rarely seen the student body so united against something. Almost every single affinity group at KU Law has authored some kind of statement requesting that the Federalist Society cancel the event.”

Jessica Kinnamon is president of the Federalist Society, which is “a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order,” according to its page on Rock Chalk Central. “It is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.”

Kinnamon said via email Wednesday, “We invited an attorney to speak to the law school on a constitutional law topic. We welcome alternative positions to be expressed during the question and answer period.”

Beck said they along with other student leaders spent Wednesday sharing concerns with the Federalist Society and pleading with campus administration for support. They said administrators have been “understanding” but have not alluded to asking the Federalist Society to cancel its event.

“I’m feeling really stressed about the matter,” Beck said. “I mean, this has taken up a large portion of my day. I have so many other things that I would like to be doing, but instead I’m trying to make sure that a group that wants to literally eradicate trans people from the planet are not coming onto my campus.

“I’m really uncomfortable with the fact that our administration is not doing more to keep them out,” Beck continued. “I’m really uncomfortable with the fact that the Federalist Society is not taking into account the harm that they’re putting their queer and trans colleagues into by bringing these people on campus.”

The Federalist Society’s event is scheduled to take place at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20 in Room 104 of the KU School of Law building, 1535 W. 15th St. in Lawrence.

Simultaneously, an LGBTQ+ friendly celebration — with food, music, crafts and games — will be happening at the tent in front of that building, according to an event flier.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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